Sihanoukville is a city on the lower peninsula of Cambodia and the final destination for most travellers before they head to the island of Koh Rong. Sihanoukville has continued to develop over the years but more in the sense of high rise hotels, casinos and now swarms of tourists. Prior to this, it was known as a hippy haven and most would say it has now changed for the worse.
- The locals: I actually struggled to think of one positive to this city! However, it must be said that Cambodians are incredibly warm and welcoming, despite the horrors of their past and the war that ravaged their entire country’s population.
- Rowdy: When you think of the hustle and bustle of most Asian cities, you think more about local markets, street food vendors, the sights and smells of unique foods. Unfortunately, Sihanoukville exudes more of a “blaring street sign, constant stream of traffic and drunken holidaymaker” vibe.
- Limited food selection: I recalled my own experience back in 2015 and distinctly remember either Western foods or fish curry being listed on most menus. Not exactly the Asian delicacies you’d have in mind.
- Dangerous: Since so much money has been poured into Sihanoukville by Chinese investors, this means it’s started to attract the wrong kind of attention. For more details about the rising crime rate, read this informative article from the Asean Post.
- Concrete jungle: My visit to Sihanoukville was 6 years ago and even then I recall a bustling city, filled with lots of tourists and cheap drink deals. Nowadays, the city is full of tacky hotels, skyscrapers and complexes; I’d take former any day.
- High levels of litter: Much to the dismay of locals, the introduction of all these extra resorts and restaurants is having both a negative effect on their own businesses and livelihoods. It’s also proving to be catastrophic for their coasts. More tourists means more rubbish is lined along the beaches, poisoning the sea life and making it a rather unsafe place to live.
Toot or boot?
It’s probably very obvious at this point but Sihanoukville has to be a boot for me! It’s a shame as the rest of Cambodia has so much to offer but Sihanoukville just doesn’t tick any boxes, especially if you’re considering visiting as part of your next holiday. Don’t feed into the new developments and avoid this one like the plague!